My hands may be SMALL, but my ideas are BIG

2/27/2009

Friday Linky Love

There's been a large focus on Generation Y for me this week and recently having connected with some young, progressive bloggers I couldn't help but feature their writing here. Happy Friday and enjoy your weekend.

1. CNN Money: According to a New International Workplace Survey by Kelly Services, Around the Globe the Desire for Meaningful Work Triumphs Over Pay, Promotion, and Job Choices
2. GenerationYGive: Agility in a Time of Uncertainty
3. Gen Y PR Prescriptions: 6 Ways to Play Twitter
4. Women-omics: Why Women are So Good in Business
5. Twenty Set: You Don't Need a Blog Topic. Just Start Writing
6. iNTERSECTEd: Social Media is Nothing Without You
7. Quiet the Thunder: No One Cares About Your Latest Blog Post
8. Smile Like You Mean It: Creative Genius
9. Brazen Careerist: 10 More Ways Generation Y Will Change the Workplace
10. Personal Branding Blog: Will Your Resume Get You the Job You Want?

Photo Credit: David

2/26/2009

Top 8 Under-Appreciated Blogs by Gen Y Women From Rebecca Thorman

Last night my friend and fantastic Generation Y blogger, Rebecca Thorman (@modite) created a list of "Top 8 Under-Appreciated Blogs by Gen Y Women," on her blog Modite. I am honored to be featured on the list and to be amongst 7 other amazing women bloggers paving the way for Generation Y. I've reblogged Rebecca's list for your perusal-let myself or Rebecca know what you think.

1. Dorie Morgan’s Rising Up by Dorie Morgan, @brstngphnx
Dorie weaves small ideas into major themes, and seems to have an outlook that is always a step to the side of my own. Which is exactly why I like reading her.

2. McKinney-Oates Cereal by Marie McKinney-Oates, @mckinneyos
Marie is the new Dooce. Wildly entertaining, transparent and hilarious, she writes about such topics as sex, her cat, the Snuggie, religion, her husband and whatever else crosses her mind. She has a special aptitude for dialogue.

3. Twenty Set by Monica O’Brien, @monicaobrien
I rarely feel the competition I do with other bloggers like I do with Monica because she’s one of the few people who can write about careers in a way that’s not completely boring.

4. Small Hands, Big Ideas by Grace Boyle, @gracekboyle
Grace and I have almost identical situations.
I love that she’s also working for a start-up company and is super into social media and the environment. She’s what Gen Y is all about.

5. Intersected by Jamie Varon, @jamievaron
When I first discovered Jamie she had a completely different writing style. Now she writes in the vein of Penelope Trunk – on the edge of topics. But be sure to explore some of her archives too for the really introspective stuff.

6. Smile Like You Mean It by Caitlin McCabe
Caitlin is a fellow Madisonian and offers sarcastic and irreverent vignettes on life next to hipster finds in art, fashion, design and music videos.

7. Shouting to Quiet the Thunder by Milena Thomas, @MelonCamp
A lot of the times, Milena feels like my blogging sister. I don’t always agree with her, sometimes I don’t even know what she’s talking about (in politics), but I’m always interested to hear her opinion. Exceptionally self-aware, her posts never fail to delight.

8. Quarter-Life Lady by Akirah Wyatt, @quarterlifelady
Akirah’s blog is full of such fun, sincerity and enthusiasm that it’s hard not to get caught up in it all. Alternating between personal stories and smart career advice, Akirah is someone you instantly like.

2/24/2009

Bringing Real World Experience to Students in the Classroom

I'm a big advocate for real-life experience and projects in the college classroom. I was lucky enough at Champlain College to do just that. This included projects like putting together a full PR Campaign for Vermont Teddy Bear or creating an internet marketing strategy and website for Sonoma Station Restaurant. Then presenting the project, to the executives or owners of the company at the end of the semester. This prepares students for work experience once they graduate, because 'experience is knowledge.' Stanford University is also paving the path for real-world classroom experience by allowing their students to design Internet applications in class which is actually earning them a monetary income through online sales.

A student, Vikram Oberoi is selling his "Site Saver" application for the iPhone priced at $1.99. This app was built in an elective computer CS193P science class. College Mogul who also covered this article notes this progressive business nature to the amount of resources available online today. "As more resources appear online, educators can start giving lessons to students in class via guided Internet exercises."
From this specific CS193P class, 40 apps have emerged and several are available for purchase at the iPhone App Store on iTunes. Vikram created a website featuring these apps, which you can view here.

I can't help but agree with College Mogul that, "with more industries finding success and growth online, teachers will be able to integrate class lessons with “real world” gain—and potentially capture student’s interests in classroom lectures. For example, in video classes, students can publish their videos to YouTube and let the world judge how much they want to see their film. Authors can test their appeal on blogs. Financial classes can take students through the process of investing with services like Ameritrade."

Champlain College offers real world experience, not just in my Public Relations major--Broadcasting majors are allowed to host their own radio show in our studio or Criminal Justice majors have a required hands-on internship with the Vermont Medical Examiner's office, local law enforcement or corrections agency. I hope to see more university's and colleges adopting this technique. Instead of just teaching them how to fish, give them the fishing pole and let them wade into the water.

So what about you? Do you know any college's adopting this strategy in the classroom? What about a class you took in college that prepared you for the real-world?

2/22/2009

This Is the Way I Tweet

Inspired by Jeremy Tanner's, "You Owe Me Nothing (My Twitter Policy)" and my mother lamenting that she doesn't get the 'rules' of Twitter I began to think about how I tweet and why.

First of all, when it comes to Twitter rules, I say there are no rules. Influential pundits talk about twitt etiquette, but there is no manual or handbook that you must abide by. I tell people, "Use it how you want..." Eventually, they're going to figure out how it works for them or doesn't. Which is why my (informal) Twitter disclaimer naturally came to mind.

My Twitter disclaimer:
  • I care less about gaining a large following and more about sharing and receiving the digital or day-to-day information I find interesting. This includes connecting and creating a dialogue. I follow people who @reply, interact, share and don't say "me" or "I" in every tweet.
  • I don't follow everyone back because I believe I reserve the right to choose if that person's tweets are compelling, intriguing or relevant. Nothing against you, I'm not even that picky but you have the choice to not follow me back as well. I'm following you because I like what you're saying, I've met you or it's work related.
  • If however, you begin to follow me I try (90% of the time) to send a personalized Direct Message to you, thanking for the follow and whatever peaks my interest about their recent tweets. Sidenote: I hate auto DM's-I want to un-follow when I receive them.
  • I believe @Lijit has immediate and personal, customer support and I think as a brand we use Twitter very well. With that being said, I often connect with my Lijit users on my personal Twitter profile, as it's easy and concise or I can RT @Lijit news or releases.
  • I've made some meaningful relationships on Twitter because of this personal interaction I've focused on. It is turned into why I love Twitter: the connections. When I first moved to Boulder I began to connect with a lot of Boulder Tweeps online, made some friends (and currently still doing so) that I have met off the Tweet grid or am planning to. I also like to tweet live via my crackberry at an event or tweetup, by contributing to the conversation.
Think I'm interesting? Want to connect? Talk tech, start-ups or share a laugh? I would love to!

So there you have it. My own personal, Twitter usage disclaimer. It works for me and is unique to who I am. How do you use Twitter? Is it for personal use or your company? Do you @reply often? What benefits have you experienced from Twitter?

Photo Credit: carrotcreative

2/20/2009

Friday Linky Love

TGIF, Friends. This week, Linky Love is focused on travel, tourism and social media. Go figure, I've been bitten by the travel bug and there's no cure.

2. Almost Fearless: Should, Should, Should I Travel
3. Kat Maund: Kat Goes to China (stay tuned for a blog post here-10 students traveling to Western China for a mobile journalism and social media trip)
4. BBC: Online Networking 'Harms Health'
5. Wandering Italy: Twitter and Travel
6. Jaunted: JetBlue Wants Your Private Jet Lunch Money
7. New York Times: Photo Geo-Tagging On the Cheap
8. The Unofficial Apple Weblog: TUAW Tips: Packing Your Gadgetry For For Travel to Faraway Lands
9. Gadling: Budget Travel: Renting A Vacation Apartment
10. Cnet-The Social: OMG! Did Google Earth Find Atlantis?

Photo Credit: doug88888

2/19/2009

Interview with Oliver Swann From Natural Homes.Org

I recently received an e-mail from Oliver Swann, creator of naturalhomes.org regarding the cob houses I have been writing about and reviewing. He offered his natural homes map (iFrame code and all) for me to post and share similar houses with my readers. Of course, I was intrigued so I asked him to elaborate on how he started naturalhomes.org- what it's about and why natural homes inspire him. G: Where did your interest in natural homes begins?
O: My interest began when I moved from the UK to live in Norway where houses are generally much better designed, warmer and smaller than the houses in the UK. Friends there gave me a book about earthships which I read and loved but soon realised there were many other eco-house building methods to explore.

G: Why did you want to start naturalhomes.org?
O: There were several reasons to start naturalhomes, the main ones were:
I wanted to make information about natural building more mainstream and accessible, more magazine like but without moving it too much from the roots of where I started to learn myself. I've been on lots of builds, volunteering to help others build their houses, but never meeting any 'mainstream' type people. Obviously they weren't finding out about natural building, hence naturalhomes.org

I want to develop an audience for naturalhomes.org so I can profile natural builders and help support their efforts to teach new people. That's why I developed the map so that it was easy for people to browse the World and see just how beautiful and affordable natural houses can be. To reach a wider audience I made the map available to any blogger or website. The iFrame code is available here http://naturalhomes.org/naturalhomesmap.htm where you can select from either a map of all natural homes or a map of a particular type, like strawbale or earthship. I also manage portfolio of homes like the houses built by the builders, Amazonails (http://naturalhomes.org/themap.htm?strawbale@amazonails)

My own project is in Poland where I hope to create a small eco-village. I'll post details on naturalhomes.org nearer the time but if anyone wants to contact me about contributing they are welcome to write to house@naturalhomes.org. This year we are running courses on the land with earthhandsandhouses.org

G: To conclude, I have to say that naturalhomes.org is a fantastic resource that I have been waiting find. I've posted here previously about cob houses around the world, but really struggled for content and it didn't seem accessible. Oliver's site is comprehensive including maps, links and photos of natural homes and eco-villages around the world, plus it's filled with a myriad of natural home resources. As Oliver mentioned, for any questions or a natural home you want to feature, e-mail him at house@naturalhomes.org and you can also find him on Twitter, @naturalhomes.

This is one of Oliver's (many) maps featuring natural homes around the United States--fantastic, click through to find out more:


2/17/2009

Personal Space

I grew up in Iowa where physically, there was a lot of open frontier space. Inversely, the three months I spent in Costa Rica I experienced a 'breach' in my personal bubble where the people behind me in lines were close enough that I could feel their breath on my neck. Additionally, I've traveled to Bangkok, Thailand where the population for the city alone is 64 million. Each, vastly different.

Boing Boing guest blogger, Charles Platt asks “To what extent do we feel overcrowded, as a species? I’m not talking about resources; just psychological factors.” Do we ever think about personal space or is it something Americans take for granted? I believe it's a mix between sociological factors and the physical space that is left around us, that we're lucky (or not so) to experience. GOOD Magazine wrote about personal space, via Boing Boing and graphed personal space by each country. Take a look, it might surprise you.


What kind of personal space do you desire? Do you live in a small studio in a crowded city like NYC? Are you just looking for the freedom to roam? Does this affect us mentally and physically?

2/13/2009

Friday Linky Love

Welcome Friday and my second Linky Love! Although I'm not a big advocate of Valentine's Day I've ran across some humorous and interesting tid-bits around the holiday itself, so look for the love in some of the links. Happy weekending.

Photo Credit: Lall

1. Modite: Real Life Disclosures on the Myth of Work/Life Balance
2. Altitude Branding: Social Media Start Kit: Twitter
3. Dzine Blog: Web Design Inspiration: 40+ Impressive Single Page Websites
4. Drew B's Take on Tech PR: What Happened When I Spoke to the New Generation Twitterati
5. Naked Generations: Olympic President Recruits Gen Y Evangelists
6. Ad Age: H& R Block Reaches Young Consumers by Mobile Phone
7. The Tampa Tribune: Many Will Say 'I<3>
8. Fun & Food Cafe:
Chocolate Banana Pancakes (in bed with your sweetie?)
9. The Huffington Post Re: Adam Sachs of Ignighter: An Open Letter To the Ladies on Valentine's Day...From Some Dudes
10. Geeks Are Sexy: The Geek Guide to Valentine's Day Gifts

2/12/2009

I Want to Trust a Brand, Like I Trusted My Horse

While growing up, I was a competitive horseback rider in three-day eventing (the triathlon of horseback riding events, yes, refer to Christopher Reeves harrowing accident and sport of choice) with my Thoroughbred, Keep the Wind. During these 8-some years, I learned a lot about leadership, independence, physical and mental endurance and most of all trust. Keep was blind in one eye, but we never failed to wow the judges as we soared over jumps and still brought home the blue ribbon (well, not every show) .

Keep and I during the cross-country portion of a competition

The reason I bring up Keep and my riding days is because I've been thinking about the role of trust within a brand and the consumer. Recently, with Phelps and A-Rod revealing their secrets, it has caused some fans and sponsors to lose trust in them. So I got to thinking about what I know...establishing trust between horse and rider is analogous to establishing trust between brand and customer. Really it is, just read on :)

I. Create Trust:
Horses, like people, have a strong sense of self-preservation. Their instincts are to run quickly from any threat and to stay within security of the herd. Mind you, the trust I created with Keep didn't happen over night. I had to prove it to him while consistency and patience were the formula. With positive reinforcements and a mature, persistent rider a horse will learn to follow directions of instinct but it is the rider and brand's responsibility to build the trust that keeps instinct in check and the horse or customers manageable.

II. Maintain Trust:
Once the rider has created a line of positive interaction, you have to stay consistent with your body language and reactions. The same goes for humans and brands interacting-respond appropriately, stay transparent, honest, and be consistent to their behavior or anticipated behavior. Then remember that once on a course of action, you must follow through.

I remember struggling with Keep, thinking "how do I learn to 'speak' horse if he doesn't speak my language?" I spent hours in his stall and in the saddle, morning and evening, learning the subtle cues that were distinctive to Keep. I learned that if he acted one way, I would react consistently to help teach him to learn. However, in all my training and lessons I learned the most by listening and being reactive. Two key points for a brand's reaction to a customer. Think about a brand that doesn't understand their target market, what a big mistake. Just like with a horse, why should Keep trust me if I respond angrily to his fear or don't listen to how he is acting. Like the tuned in, loyal customer--they notice when you're not listening.

III. Deliver Promises:
The Dove brand promises to make women feel gorgeous just the way they are. Volvo, vows to deliver your family safely in their vehicle. They're not just throwing a catchy tag line out there, but their initiatives mirror their promise or else they wouldn't be successful. Just like horses are social animals and stay in their herd, so are people. We use tools like Twitter, blogging and even sitting with your friend over lunch talking about how we're affected by or feeling about...my new running shoes, the Dentist that sent me the sweet welcome package, JC Penny's In the Doghouse Valentine's Campaign, etc.

If I rushed Keep through a cool-down, then threw him in his stall because I was in a hurry for something else, I broke his trust and didn't deliver my consistent promise of taking care of him. Simple, but customers don't like to be tossed aside. They want to trust that your brand's promise will hold true, and if it's broken, then they feel betrayed and upset. This will indirectly and directly, affect your brand. Depending on the extent of the broken promise and the customer or loyal fan on the receiving end, the backlash could be severe.

Above all else, trust is the first piece for any business, brand, or celebrity to establish with their following or customers. Yes, mistakes will be made, but if trust has been established and consistent then like me with Keep The Wind after a fall, I always got back in the saddle.

2/10/2009

Customer Service Goes a Long Way

Customer service. Seems pretty easy, right? Be personal, listen to your customers, follow-up, create a general sense of friendliness and validate why they, your customers, use your service or brand. Unfortunately, I think it's one of the hardest 'actions' to be consistent in.

I'm not talking about fireworks. Sometimes it's the simple little things that companies do to make their customer feel special. I just experienced one such customer service approach that I had to share:

Since I've relocated to Boulder, I've been grabbing new doctors, mechanics, and dentists. Through a recommendation, I've gone with Boulder Dental Group. I set up a consultation and regular teeth cleaning for next month and within a week I received a large manila envelope from them. Perplexed I tore the envelope open with my bubbling wonderment. Inside was a kind, "welcome" letter that told me exactly what to expect on my first visit to their office (partof this included a tour of the office before my teeth cleaning)! Then with clear branding on some 'dental SWAG' they included chapstick, a pen, post-its and a personalized appointment card. Wow.
Not a lot of work to put together, but it made me feel like I made the right choice. It made me feel welcome and it evoked a warm feeling inside of me. Definitely something any small business and especially a Dentist would want to do. Bravo, Boulder Dental Group.

What are some examples of customer service you've experienced recently that have wowed you?

February 12th Update: There are a lot of good conversations going on in the comments, including reader's exceptional experience with customer service and the not to so good ones. Join in!

2/08/2009

12for12K-Social Media for 12 Social Causes

If you haven't heard of 12for12K yet, here's your chance. This involves 12 charities for 12 months this 2009, to raise $12,000 per charity. This philanthropic charity effort is relying on the "combination of social media and fund-raising." The charity chosen in January 2009 was War Child and this month is Stop the Silence. Without a doubt, I'm in and you can grab the blog badge here (see my sidebar).
Recently, as I made my regular visit to Danny Brown's blog I noticed the 12for12K promotional video had been released. It's very well-done and inspiring, so if you also feel it please feel free to pass it along, donate and spread the word. I'm in, are you?


"When there is charity and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance." -St. Francis of Assisi


For more information:
Website: http://12for12k.org/
Twitter: @12for12k
Blog: http://12for12k.org/category/blog/

2/06/2009

Friday Linky Love

Each week I must visit thousands of blogs, websites and newsletters--not to mention my RSS feed is jam packed and I'm constantly updating and changing it. Plus, I'm all about sharin' the love. Why am I not running a link love post? Good question, Grace. So be it. Each Friday, I'll post my top 10 article links that I pick up from the week. As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome and appreciated. Enjoy and happy Friday!

Photo Credit: BotheredByBees

1. Creative Class: Youth Entrepreneurship in the Creative Age
2. Strategic Public Relations: Is Customer Interaction An Opportunity or Cost?
3. Advertising Age: 2009 Super Bowl Top 10 Most-Liked, Most-Recalled Spots
4. Visible Measures: Measuring the Effectiveness of Every Super Bowl Ad across 150+ Video Sharing Destinations (if you don't know who Visible Measures is, you should. Scope their data and graphs on gauging video and audience measurement)
5. Hottnez: Adam's Bridge-1,750,000 Year Old Man-Made Bridge between Sri Lanka and India (this has been found a bit back, but imagine what this means for history, amazing!)
6. Danny Brown, guest post with Elaine Young: Small Business, Not Ready for Prime Time-Yet...
7. Social Marketing: How's Your Blog? Time for a Fitness Checkup?
8. Computer World: FAQ: How Google Latitude Locates You (Although cool functionality, I'm not a fan and wouldn't opt in)
9. Read, Write, Web: StumbleUpon Hits 7 Million Users, Quietly 50% Bigger Than Twitter
10. Drew's Marketing Minute: Which Customer Service Example Are you?

2/05/2009

Winter In A Cob House

In this blog I try to mix in the facets of life that interest me such as social media, technology, music, travel and environmentalism. Through environmentalism, I've sort of become a source of information in building, living and maintaining a cob house (this remains one of my top search terms) thanks to my good friend's the Mullenneaux's and their journey in building a cob house.

As many readers stumble here for cob updates (it's very much long tail, very few people blog about cob houses, I've looked) I promised to follow up with them to see how they've dealt with their first Iowa winter in their cob house. Their insights are both helpful and interesting.

What's the latest with your cob house in the winter?

First, the confession. We just returned from two weeks in Florida. It wasn't that the cold forced us out, however. The house has been cozy throughout this harsh winter and a friend stayed there while we were away. Most of the lessons we have learned this winter are not particular to cob, but here they are.

What were some unforeseen challenges you faced?

An entryway that is closed off from the house is important in a cold winter climate. We hung a quilt on a curtain rod inside the front door to block blasts of frigid air coming in when the door is opened. Later we found out that this kind of thermal door curtain is a common practice in England.

If you are using a wood stove as your primary heat, give it a central location and outside air intake. A tight house and a wood stove drawing air from the living space is not a good combo.

Even though this is the most organic house we have ever been in, it is not the same as living outdoors. Moving indoors this winter was a challenge for Lin and I because we had been bathing, working, cooking, and eating outside all spring, summer and fall. The tiny camper where we slept barely separated us from the bugs and rain. To soften this seasonal transition, we are contemplating an attached building that would have a greenhouse on the south wall, an internal water wall for heat storage and solar heat collection on the roof. Hopefully, it will be a winter garden similar to what Anna Edey achieved on Martha's Vineyard: http://www.solviva.com/

What are you grateful for with your cob house?

Driving back from Florida, we listened to Garrison Keillor talk about how nature periodically tries to kill off anyone foolish enough to spend the winter on the northern plains. Native Americans didn't maintain year round communities in this region. They would head to the protected woodland valleys until spring. Eventually, our house will be sheltered by forests. For now, it is a wonderful place to live and dream.

The Mullenneaux's Cob House at Christmas, 2008. Photo Credit: The Mullenneaux's

Here is another great article in Radish Magazine, "Comfort of cob: Fairy tale cottage takes shape with mud, straw" by Linda Egenes who wrote the original article on our home.


For more information here are the rest of my cob house posts:
Building A Cob House
Building A Cob House-Follow Up
Cob Houses Around the World

2/03/2009

My Mom AND Dad Are On Facebook, Weird? Think Again

I can easily say that I'm 'Facebook Loyal' because I was just beginning college when Facebook came onto the scene in 2004 and exclusively opened up to Mark Zuckerberg's own, Harvard University. Then as everyone knows, expanded to colleges in the Boston area and Ivy League's. I went to college in Burlington, Vermont, so I was close to the action you could say. In early 2005 I was on Facebook as soon as Champlain College was in. I was immediately hooked and it's safe to say it has forever changed how I interact and connect online, even popular culture.

Now, in my post-college days while still remaining a proud Generation Y girl, I have a lot of friends who don't understand how it's now opened up publicly. They miss the days when it was just college students (maybe I do too, sometimes). Friends still feel weird that their mom is on Facebook, while I try to tell them it's the norm and so is having your boss, your extended family, etc. You can always choose to decline their 'friendship' via Facebook, but that's another story entirely. Plus, those of my friends lacking the online digital finesse have to realize anything you put online is public and out there for good. Deal with it.

Sometimes, they won't take my word for it. So of course, this is also backed with data (here comes the geek again) which is best represented on Inside Facebook. Their most recent study found that the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is women over the age of 55.


Key Highlights

  • Facebook reporting nearly 45.3 million active US users in the last 30 days
  • Facebook growing in every age/gender demographic. Fastest growing segment: Women over 55, up 175.3% in the last 120 days.
  • Facebook growing faster with women than men in almost every age group. Women comprise 56.2% of Facebook’s audience, up from 54.3% late last year.
  • 45% of Facebook’s US audience is now 26 years old or older.
And yes, both my Mom and Dad are on Facebook. Times are a changin'

2/02/2009

Her Morning Elegance

Good morning and welcome February! I recently discovered the musician, Oren Lavie and I just love this video. It's unique and rhythmic. I like the style and how their whole day happens...in bed. Intrigued, just watch Her Morning Elegance by Oren Lavie. It's a beautiful song.